As soon as I get a GANTT chart as an e-mail attachment, that is a sure sign there is an MBA degree holder on the other end. Now don't get me wrong, an MBA is a great accomplishment, and those who use their knowledge to start successful businesses are to be commended.
But for those of us in business, who got here in a roundabout way, such as by starting in a creative job...well we learn as we go. What are some examples of learning business knowledge from creative efforts?
Example 1 - Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth
(ok, that's a cooking example too)
You are working on a script for a video. The writer met her deadline and you like what she's done. So you send it off to your client for review. The next day you get it back with some Track Changes revisions. Nothing too bad. So before getting the green light for the shoot, it has to be run up the chain of command - your client's bosses. Suddenly, you find yourself sitting at a long conference table, accompanied by 6 people you have never met, your client and the worst pot of coffee you've ever tasted. You spend the next 4 hours copiously taking notes as the committee analyzes every word, apostrophe and colon. And speaking of colons, this coffee is racing through your system a bit too quickly. When the script review is finished, instead of being told to make the changes, you have to sit through 30 more minutes being scolded for not following your original orders. In other words, the client decided, via a laborious process, that what they asked for is not what they wanted. But it's your fault of course.
What's this got to do with business? Everything. Managing expectations is one of your key roles in business. You are happy to take the client's money, but are you prepared to help the client know what they want and expect what they are getting? Sometimes the only way to learn this is to drink that bad coffee.
Example 2 - Follow the Yellow Brick Road
In other words, follow the prescribed path to success with a client. In design, you often need to follow the client's corporate branding guidelines...to the letter. The client uses a font you don't have? Buy it. The client does their brochures in InDesign and you are a Quark house? Either learn it or hire someone who knows it. Think the corporate brochure templates are bland and all look the same? Don't forget that the work you are doing is a small piece of their million dollar campaign. Consistency is everything when marketing anything.
From a business point of view, little interpretation is needed. You may be a creative type who is now running or helping to run a business, but once you have provided the creative jolt your client needs, follow their rules for compliance with the corporate strategy.
Example 3 - Dance like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee
In other words, think on your feet and nail your client's need accurately and decisively when they need you to. A client calls and says "I like the DVD. Can I use this at my exhibit next week?"
Well you know, from a creative point of view, that you hit the PLAY button and the video plays once then goes back to the main menu. Not good for a trade show display. Your answer has to be "You could, but it would be better if it loops."
The client asks how soon they can get that version.
A good client asks how much it will cost. A good creative/business person will get them the goods and if they are a good client or a new client you do it gratis, because you are providing excellent customer service and that keeps 'em coming back for more. New clients and good clients (repeat clients) are the only clients you should have. New clients are not always good, but sometimes you don't know that until the job is finished. Until that time, treat every client the same - they are a good client, because they are a client, and you want to make them a good repeat client. So you do your job the only way you know how - well. Think on your feet to come up with solutions when they need you to.
More examples than I can think of
Don't just take my advice, check out the latest threads from the Creative COW Business and Marketing Forum:
Read the forum. Better yet subscribe to the new posts. I guarantee you'll be smarter for reading. You'll get the benefit of many viewpoints from experts and novices alike from around the world. Who needs an MBA when you have a COW.
Thanks for reading.